Using the Mind Palace/Method of Loci Technique in Different Situations

Basically, the mind palace is an elaborate way of encoding information into our brains easily and in a way that allows the information to stick in your mind for weeks, even months after memorizing.  It uses the fact that our brains are amazing at remembering very visual images and spaces.  For instance, take your time and imagine this scenario with me (I recommend concentrating in a quiet environment, and dedicate a lot of effort to visualizing this scenario):

You are standing a few feet away from your front door to your house.  (Really try to use all your senses.  Imagine as much detail as possible; imagine how it smells, how it feels to the touch, and so on…)

You take a step towards your door, but suddenly your ears fill with the deafening sound of bees buzzing.  Looking up, you immediately see two gigantic bumblebees flying towards you, with giant spears for stingers pointed directly at you.

 Now, imagine your favorite weapon (anime or real-life, your choice) suddenly materializing in your hands.  

You aim your weapon, and with one blow/strike, you destroy those bees in a very gooey, messy explosion.  Step over the remains of the bees into your home.

A little ways into your home from the front door stands the Burger King.

 Imagine how regal he looks, his large shiny crown and his flowing colorful robes.  He is eating a large pint of cookie dough ice cream too fast, and suddenly, he drops the carton and clutches his head in agony as he develops a brain-freeze.  

(Imagine it as dramatically as possible, complete with screams of pain and writhing on the floor and whatnot).

Step around the screaming king into your living room.  In the living room is Katniss Everdeen (or just Jennifer Lawrence, if you can imagine her better).

 She is wearing a very suggestive bikini and pointing a bow and arrow at your head.  As you stare at her body, she lets the arrow fly.  You dodge it at the last second, feeling the arrow whiz past your head and feeling the wind left in its wake tickle your ear.  

You cover your head and run into the kitchen.  Imagine the smell of your favorite food cooking, and look over to the oven.  Your oven and your refrigerator bursts open to reveal a stream of gold coins.  (You can actually hear the continuous sound of metal falling upon metal as the coins spill out onto your kitchen floor.)

Backing out of the kitchen, you seek refuge in the nearest bathroom, but as soon as you open that door, a large amount of seawater floods into the hallway.  A giant squid’s arm reaches out of your toilet and wraps itself around your arms, trying to pull you inside.




Stop imagining.




Were you able to imagine all that?  Feel free to read the story again if you feel like you need to visualize it again.

Got it?  Alright then.  Now go back through the story in your mind and stop at certain points, as if just running through snapshots.  Can you name all the weird and wacky things that happened in this story?  Without looking at the story, can you tell me what comes after Katniss?  Can you tell me what was at your front door?  What happened before the giant squid? What happened to the king?

Chances are, you can probably answer those question pretty easily, and if you visualized it well enough, you could probably tell me the whole story backwards.

Human beings are very visual beings be nature.  Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who needed to remember locations, such as home or where to find the best game.  We also needed to recall information such as which foods to eat or not to eat.  Our brains have the capacity to store amazing amounts of information easily, but many people do not understand how to do so efficiently, and the mind palace is one of many memory tricks that can help encode information into our brains seamlessly.  

Now then, still remember the mind palace that we made using your own house? This is only a simple example of a mind palace, but believe it or not, that story that I had you imagine was actually a fun and interesting way that I’ve used to memorize Hamlet’s famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy.  Don’t believe me?  Think back to your house…

Your front door, where two giant bees attack you, but you make them disappear   ->  (To be, or not to be [that is the question:])

- Inside your house, the Burger King hurts his head getting a brain freeze.  ->   (Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer)

- Katniss shoots an arrow at you  ->  (The slings and arrows of)

- Your kitchen is overflowing with gold coins  ->  (outrageous fortune)

- Your arm is taken by a giant squid in your seawater-flooded bathroom  ->  (or to take arms against a sea of troubles)

Basically, you just memorized the first few lines of the famous soliloquy by using the mind palace technique.

Still not impressed?  Try it yourself and make up your own story to memorize the entire soliloquy from Hamlet.  Chances are, after a little practice, you’ll have the entire speech memorized in no time at all. :)

Basically, it all condenses down to this:

1) Visualize a place.  Close your eyes and choose a familiar place.  Make it something you’re familiar with like a home or school, or someplace entirely make-up, like a video game map or a scene from an anime or TV show or movie.  Really take the time to use your senses and really picture yourself in that space (It’d be helpful to write this down just in case.)  You can make a mind palace for different sets of information, or compress it all into one giant castle/palace, with different rooms for different information (Similar to Sherlock’s mind palace, with different areas containing different bits of information).

2) Imagine a path.  Make a predetermined pathway through this space, as if you are actually there.  Walk past objects, interact with them, use the doorknobs when going through doors, bump into corners, hear your feet hitting the ground, listen to the creaks and noises.  Choose a path that you are most likely to remember, and stick to it.  Make sure that you know that path forwards and backwards (backwards is important, I’ll explain that later.)

3) Start memorizing. What you want to do now is place “memory pegs” along your pathway.  Memory pegs are basically the images that you want to use to remember your information.  What you want is to look at your memory pegs and immediately associate them with the information you want to memorize (for instance, two giant bees should make you think about “[Two bee], or not [two bee]). Don’t make them static images though, make them 3D, make them breathe, make them alive, but most of all: make them memorable.  Don’t just picture any old king, make it something creepy like the Burger King character, and have him screaming in pain clutching his head while his brain is getting frozen be ice cream.  Make it wacky, make it sexual, make it sad, make it happy, it’s up to you, as long as it sticks out enough for you to remember it. Try not to use the same memory peg twice, but if you feel you can distinguish which is which, feel free to do so.

Place memory pegs along your path that you made in Step 2, and again, make it fun.  Make it however you desire.  Have Brittney Spears dancing on your coffee table.  Do the worm with Elvis on your bed while Santa Claus sits on your TV.  Run through an asylum with Sherlock and the Doctor.  Have fun with your imagination ;D

[I will emphasize this part right here.  WRITE IT DOWN! I recommend this because with the vast amount of memory pegs you use, it’s tough to keep track of it all.  I once tried putting 50 pegs one after the other, only to go back to the beginning and forgot the first three.  For beginners, it’d be a little easier to keep track of your pegs until you get the hang of visualizing using the mind palace].

4) Repetition.  Now here comes the most important part.  Start from the beginning, and recall your memory pegs, one by one.  Go through your path or story that you’ve created, and really remember to visualize each detail to the fullest.  Go back to the beginning after a few pegs, just to make sure you’ve got those ones down.  Slowly advance through your mind palace until you’ve gotten to the end, then go back to the beginning and repeat as many times as necessary.  

Now then, got all that down? Take your time, no need to rush anything, because rushing will not help you memorize things. Believe me, trying to speed-memorize for an exam will actually make you forget a lot of information, because you’re panicking.  Unless you’re extremely proficient at the mind palace technique, just take things slowly and at your own pace.

Got to the end of your mind palace?  You sure you have everything down? Good.  Now go through your journey BACKWARDS!
Yup, this is one of the best ways to memorize in the mind palace, by going through your information backwards.  This way, you can start at ANY point in your mind palace and still be able to move forward and backwards and still recall information perfectly.  You could start out in the kitchen and know that there’s a giant squid in the next room, and Katniss in the previous room.

5) Keep at it. The information will stay in your mind for months on end, perhaps even years, as long as you mentally run through your palaces every now and again.  

Imagine the possibilities with this technique.  

Be able to memorize an entire speech by remembering it topic by topicinstead of word-for-word, like memorizing the Hamlet soliloquy.  

Remember complicated information such as pi (I’ve memorized up to almost 100 digits of pi, and I still remember it after weeks of not trying to remember, just by recalling my mind palace for pi), or remembering information for your next big test or exam (The cool part is that when you reach a question on the test that you’ve stored info about in your mind palace, your brain automatically jumps to that part of the palace where you stored your info.).  

Use the technique to store memories that are important or that you would like to remember (I use memory pegs that help me to recall the entire part of the memory, kind of like how seeing Mickey Mouse triggers a fun or scary memory about DisneyLand).

Use it to remember phone numbers, dates like birthdays or special days, remember faces, recall events, or even just for remembering your grocery list for the day.

(6. [Bonus] Re-using or destroying mind palaces)

This is up to you, but to delete information, just delete the corresponding memory peg.  You can visualize a new peg repeatedly where the old peg would have been, so that the new one sticks in your mind, or for the more creative ones, you can erase the pegs however you like.  Kill them with a boulder, erase them with a magic pencil, up to you.  You can even destroy entire palaces by blowing them up, erasing them, bury it in lava, use dynamite like in Minecraft, or just simply stop visiting that mind palace.  Not visiting a palace for a good amount of time makes you forget that it was there, but it’ll still be buried there, and sometimes the information resurfaces if you recall it by accident.

I encourage you to try out the Mind Palace technique, and if you have any questions, send me a message or look online, there’s tons of websites, books, and Tumblr blogs dedicated to just the Mind Palace technique.  Good luck, and happy memorizing!


Things I have done that SMH has also definitely done
  • microwaved a hot dog for 20 minutes on accident, catching the microwave on fire and almost the rest of the building
  • said “no, I can definitely make this trick shot, watch” when playing basketball before missing completely, breaking a window, and sighing “this isn’t my sport, okay?”
  • ate a leaf I found on my porch because I was hungry
  • ate a piece of paper with a meme printed on it that was on the floor because someone paid me a dollar. I called it the meme dollar for weeks. I eventually bought coffee with it
  • threw out my elbow when putting cream cheese on a bagel. I had to fix it myself
  • “it’s weird being a Sharks and Pens fan after the Superbowl” [pause] “oh my god I said Superbowl”
  • punched a tree to see if I could break my hand. I could. I did.
  • “No, I swear, I can eat this entire lemon, peel and all” “please don’t” “watch me”
  • told the guy that worked at a tattoo place that I have 5 boyfriends and we have a group message
  • sat on a swing set, cried when the swing broke. I was 17.
  • an excerpt from a story about a party I threw once: “everyone is screaming, the baby is still crying in the fireplace, and all of my slim jims have been eaten”
  • [takes one sip of a Jagerbomb] tastes like cough syrup [downs the rest] I dig it
  • got my sprinkles privileges taken away because I kept putting too much on my ice cream
  • smacked a small moth out of the air, promptly shouted “SPIKED YA” triumphantly. My friend cried
  • “I want a smash cake for my birthday” “you’re an adult” “so?”
  • stole one of those decorative bottles from Olive Garden
  • put my hand in boiling water and my only reaction was to say “wet” very quietly
  • sat at my computer without moving or 28 hours thinking only 4 had passed. I slept for 2 hours. Stayed up for another 30
  • hid cheesecake under my bed to eat later (and referred to it only as my ‘under the bed cheesecake’)
  • got kicked out of 5 below after having been there for less than 10 minutes
  • climbed a tree with no shirt on and yelled at people walking by
  • got hit by a car, sighed, turned to the person walking behind me, said “just another Tuesday” and kept walking. It wasn’t Tuesday
  • pulled many random metal objects out of my bag and slowly started handing them to my friend. I found them all on the ground outside
  • [pulls a half-eaten granola bar out of my soccer bag] “dude, how long has this been in here” “2 years at least” “what the fuck”
  • shouted “I can’t wait for eternal damnation!” to a pride protester
  • played never have I ever and lost first because everyone playing said very specific things that I had done
  • watched Mythbusters for 18 straight hours with a friend. Neither of us said anything the entire time.
  • wrote and made cardboard and paper props for a Spongebob play with a few other people. We performed it for an audience of 5. I played Gary.
  • I wasn’t allowed to have bagels for like 5 years. I still don’t understand this
  • I dropped a penny, and when someone pointed this out to me, I just waved a hand dismissively and said “he can stay”
  • tried to make sugar cookies, followed the recipe exactly, ended up with flat square cookies that oddly looked like bread slices. They tasted okay though
  • walk for an hour just to get a Wendy’s junior cheeseburger. Then walk an hour back. I do this often
  • danced in an alley across the street from a frat house, wondering when the day they will take me in would come. It has not yet happened
  • taped a picture of Ted Cruz to my wall. He watches everything
  • “this ice cream tastes like Bailey’s” “oh my god you’re an alcoholic” “I know what I am about, okay?”
  • brought 2 snakes to a frozen yogurt shop. No one noticed.
  • broke my neck in a game. Continued playing
  • “I can’t get my wisdom teeth out what if I say something gay” “you say gay shit every day” “yeah but that’s sober gay stuff”
  • instead of going to my own classes, I went to a friend’s the entire day. His teachers did not care. Eventually we left his classes too
  • stared a security guard in the eye and set off all the hand dryers in the bathroom at once before leaving
  • climbed to the top of a street sign to prove that I could. Almost broke the sign
  • went on a 20 minute long rant about the word “alum”
  • made a noise that was basically a very high pitched way to say “squish”. My friend no longer trusts me. The sound makes her cry
  • got invited to join a strange religion on the sixth floor of a hotel by a man sat in a chair facing the elevator. They had sign up sheets and name tags. I took a name tag

Bestiary: Genis Loci

A Genius loci is the protective spirit of a place. Genius loci are usually extremely powerful and usually also very intelligent, and nearly omnipotent and omniscient inside the area they inhabit, while others are simply vast, semi-sentient wellsprings of energy. 

They are formed by powerful magical events, and in others they are the results of ley lines, mana pools, or an equivalent.  Very few genius loci of this form are able to move from their native area, either because they are “part of the land” or because they are bound to it.

What's wrong with a female Watson?

Has everyone already forgotten about one of the best incarnations of Watson ever; Alexandra Eames from LOCI? Alex was a great take on Watson and one of my favorite characters ever.

She was often portrayed as the tougher of the two and she was absolutely the better shot. She was successful in her own right as well as the senior partner, and while others regarded Goren as a freak or whack-job, Eames was his stalwart friend and partner who saw his methods as different, but awesome and effective. They were also fiercely loyal to one another. She stuck up for him, he stuck up for her and nothing cheesed them off more than when someone tried to hurt the other. She kept him level and he valued her opinion above all else. It was total Holmes/Watson!